Nigerians without NIN will not benefit from seized food distribution- Customs

The Customs boss said Nigerians are to present their NIN to prevent multiple collections
Nigeria could still fall short of World Bank target despite recording 100 million NIN registrations

By Yunusa Umar

The Nigeria Customs Service has declared that Nigerians without a National Identification Number (NIN), would not benefit from the distribution of food items seized across the country. This is in a bid to ensure orderliness in the food distribution process and ensure that beneficiaries do not collect multiple times.

The Comptroller-general of the Nigeria Customs Service, Bashir Wale Adeniyi, while addressing newsmen in Lagos, said seized food items would be distributed to Nigerians in a bid to cushion the hardship facing the country. At the event flag-off Yesterday, Adeniyi emphasised that the service is collaborating with other sister agencies to distribute food items to needy Nigerians.

He further stated that Nigerians who will benefit from food access would provide a verifiable National Identification Number.

In his words: “Our target includes artisans teachers, religious organizations and other Nigerians within the area of customs operations including the border areas. The intention of this distribution is to reach out directly to members of organizations that have structures to endure the maximum impact of the exercise. The effort of the distribution is to ensure robust security protocol throughout the process as officers will closely monitor the entire supply chain to prevent any misuse or possible diversion of food items”.

Nigerians without NIN will not benefit from seized food distribution- Customs

He said the exercise is part of the federal government’s efforts to ensure the reduction of food prices in the country. He further noted that the service will collaborate with other sister agencies of government while customs is the lead agency because the food items are with them

“Among us here are the police, DSS, and tomorrow we are going to have a full department of all the sister organizations for proper monitoring”, he said.

Adeniyi noted that the rice being distributed to the public had been certified safe for consumption by the National Agency For Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC). The rice has been repackaged into 25kg bags to reach to a broader segment of the population.

Food inflation troubles in Nigeria

According to reports, since the removal of the fuel subsidy, Nigeria has witnessed consistent food inflation, with the food inflation rate as of January 2024 hitting 35.41 per cent on a year-on-year basis. This was 11.10 per cent points higher compared to the rate recorded in January 2023 (24.32 per cent). In recent years, food prices have been skyrocketing across Nigeria.

Weakened economic fundamentals led the country’s persistent inflation to reach a 17-year high of 25.8% in August 2023. This, in combination with sluggish growth, is leaving millions of Nigerians in poverty. Following a change in administration in May 2023, the country is now at a crossroads and has a unique opportunity to return to a sustainable and inclusive growth path.

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A food market

Recognizing the need to change course, the new administration has undertaken key reforms to restore macroeconomic stability by removing the gasoline subsidy and unifying and significantly liberalizing the exchange rate.

These reforms, together with global oil prices remaining above their historical averages, are expected to begin to reduce fiscal pressures and unwind the critical macroeconomic distortions that held back growth in the past. The economy is expected to grow at an average of 3.4% between 2023 and 2025, benefitting from the reforms undertaken, a recovery in the agriculture and services sectors, and, over time, increased scope for government development spending.

If the reform momentum is maintained, concerted efforts to achieve fiscal and monetary policy consolidation, reduce insecurity, strengthen public services, and improve the business environment and openness to trade, could boost investments and productivity, allowing Nigeria to return to a high growth path. Yet, downside risks to the outlook are high and include fading or reversing the reform drive, domestic and regional instability, as well as climate change effects.

Customs’ food distribution

About 10 points have been mapped out for the food distribution process. Interested Nigerians are to present their NIN to prevent multiple collections. Adeniyi announced the Customs’ collaboration with the police to prevent the resale of the food items. He urged citizens to report any instances of misuse or unauthorized resale, emphasizing the readiness to arrest and prosecute those found with stored food items.

Adeniyi provided an overview of the seized items, which include over 20,000 bags of 50kg parboiled rice, beans, maize, millet, soya beans, and 2,500 cartons containing 963 bags of assorted dried fish, dry pepper, seasoning, salt, cooking oil, macaroni, sugar, and garri. Over 50 trucks transporting these items are currently detained by Customs area commands.

See also: 4 things Nigerians stand to gain as FG approves eCustoms project

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